Sunday, 5 June 2011

Council staff paid to keep quiet

Council employees are being paid money to keep quiet after having their employment terminated - with Brighton and Hove making more payments than anywhere else in the country.

Dozens of staff across three biggest councils in the county have signed compromise agreements in return for not pursuing claims and grievances in court.

Brighton and Hove City Council alone has issued 123 in the last five years - the most of any authority in the country.

 Yet union representatives and local authorities claim it was a way of saving money in the long run as it means disputes do not go to employment tribunals.

Open government campaigner Paul Cardin said: “With the issues of privacy, super-injunctions, gagging orders and freedom of speech so prevalent in the media, it's important that public bodies are seen to promote fairness, openness and transparency.

“They should not be seen using public funds to conceal sensitive issues or potential malpractice beneath a veil of secrecy.”

My comment: Whilst there are many genuine reasons for compromise agreements they can also be used by public authorities to buy off potential whistleblowers, witnesses to council wrongdoing or victims of management bullying and that can't be right. 

Taxpayer's money should never be used to bribe staff to keep quiet about council wrondoing. Or to persuade those who have been bullied by senior staff to leave and keep quite about the culture of bullying in the workplace.

The problem with compromise agreemenst is the secrecy that surrounds them meaning there is no independent scrutiny. Therefore we just don't know how many of these agreements are genuine and how many are really bribes to keep the wrongdoings of a public authority, their staff or elected represenatives  out of the press.

Read the full story from the source The Argus

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